But Can You Name Them…

I thought I was pretty good with naming (most) of the U.S. presidents, until I worked the New York Times Crossword puzzle today (in syndication). I figured out the theme. I got all five of the theme answers. But I still had a bit of trouble at first figuring out which presidents were being referred to. I almost had to whip out my copy of The Buck Stops Here (http://bit.ly/diNZNe) to refresh my memory of the presidents. How fast can you guess which presidents these are?






Answers in comments section!

Haiku R Us

I’ve been in serious haiku mode lately, reading the brand new 25th Anniversary Edition of The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Teach, and Appreciate Haiku, by William J. Higginson and Penny Harter. (Look for a book review as soon as I finish it.) In fact, this edition is  so new, Amazon.com doesn’t appear to stock it yet, only the older edition:  http://bit.ly/d8vkkF. I found my copy on the shelves of Annie Bloom’s Books in SW Portland.

There is something captivating about these tiny little word paintings of only seventeen syllables (or less). With spring arriving early in Portland this year, in the guise of purple, yellow and white crocuses, daffodils (yellow, of course!) and amazingly for February, cherry blossoms, I have inspiration galore right outside my window. And of course my two indoor kitties salivating over the bushtits and robins that tantalize them from just on the other side of our thermopane glass give me plenty of inspiration from within.

I am ramping up now for the April poem-a-day challenge. One of my favorite pastimes on the web is following links from other links to see where it takes me, and on one such web surfing expedition, I discovered this wonderfully informative video by Jane Reichhold, an expert on Basho: http://bit.ly/bVAk4h . It’s about an hour long, but can be watched in parts and gives great advice for writing haiku. Plus Jane is nothing if not outspoken, so it makes for a lively presentation.

The Tao of Laundry

I was delighted to receive my contributor’s copy of A Cup of Comfort for Mothers (http://bit.ly/9HC4nv), containing my story The Tao of Laundry. I’ve wanted to be published in A Cup of Comfort ever since I picked up a copy of A Cup of Comfort for Women a few years back and discovered that they accepted submissions from anyone. I had some stories to tell, and here it seemed was a great outlet. I loved the idea of true stories by a wide cross-section of writers, who weren’t necessarily “professional writers”, but merely people like myself with “a story to tell”.

The story is about life, laundry and my mom. I only wish I would have shared the story with my beloved mother. With the second anniversary of her death  having just passed, Mom has been very much on my mind lately. I think the story would have amused her.

Love Is

Valentine’s Day has got to be one of my favorite holidays. Coming in the midst of a gray Portland winter, what’s not to like about all the cheerful red, pink and white displays of cards, balloons, flowers and candy you see in just about every store you step into. So it was only fitting that our Wednesday prompt should be to write a love poem. With all due respect to Love Story:

Love Is

Agreeing on a movie
To watch together
And knowing when
To say you’re sorry

A Self Review

The prompt  for the January  Write On! Online Challenge  was to write a review of something we’ve written. It was challenging indeed, to strike just the right balance between modesty and blowing my own horn.  In the end, I decided to approach it by pretending I was writing a review of someone else’s work. 🙂 I was thrilled to learn today that I won 2nd place (http://bit.ly/b1m4uY), for this review:

The Ten Best Things, in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings (http://bit.ly/34wABN)

Category: Creative nonfiction

I stumbled across Cara Holman’s story The Ten Best Things in a volume of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings. As a cancer survivor myself, I appreciated the forthrightness and honesty with which she presented the story of how a writing group she joined shortly after her cancer diagnosis helped her to deal with her treatment and aided in her emotional recovery.

A cancer diagnosis can be a frightening and isolating experience. Many studies have shown the value of support groups for cancer patients, and in The Ten Best Things, Cara recounts how joining a writing group for women cancer survivors functioned both as a support group for the “eight or so” women in it, and as a way to channel their creative energies into the process of healing. While Cara is quick to conclude that obviously no one would have chosen to have been diagnosed with cancer in the first place, she firmly believes that she and the women of her writing group are in a better place as a result of having to confront their own mortality, and reassess their priorities in life.

As I reflect upon the lesson of this story, I find myself in agreement with the sentiments expressed by this author, namely, that many of us cancer survivors have learned “to be kinder, more compassionate, more life-affirming people and never to forget how much we still have to be grateful for.” I found this story to be life-affirming, without ever becoming maudlin.

I would encourage readers who are interested in honest writings about surviving cancer, losing one’s parents, and just everyday stories about raising children, becoming a writer, and hitting midlife to check out some of Cara’s other equally engaging, and often humorous writings. A full list of her publications, both online and in print, can be found on her blog Prose Posies.